Josie Tremlett-Kahn, who prides herself on being a non-conformist, befriends two children; the anarchist Seth Burke and the anti-social Moira Downing. Together, they buck all sorts of traditions with their friendship, even provoking the ire of the school bully, Sheila Baines, who has made it her goal to intimidate and hurt the many reluctant students of Montagne Beach Middle School.
But when the trio meets Josie’s cousin Trixie (who was isolated from the Stebbins/Kalbrunner family due to an imagined mental disability), they realize that not only do they have to rebel against the lifestyle of the typical American teenager, but they a bigger problem on their hands: how to deal with Trixie and disproving her disabilities.
This is now where we find Josie, about to confront her uncle Rajasthan about this very issue.
Now we begin...
It was now Monday, January 18, 1988, and Josie Tremlett-Kahn knew that she would have to face a very difficult task: facing her uncle, Rajasthan Kalbrunner, and demanding an explanation as to why her cousin Trixie was locked up inside his house for five years and no one in the family knew of her existence.
Not until now, that was. (Or when Josie and her two new friends Seth Burke and Moira Downing had decided to sneak into the Kalbrunner house while hiding from the police, who were having a stakeout at the house next to the Kalbrunner house.)
Josie quickly forced herself out of bed and glanced around the room that she shared with her younger sister, Anne-Marie Stebbins. Most of her classmates had their own rooms in their houses and they would often tease her for still sharing a room with her sister. Josie rebuffed their efforts to humiliate her, saying, "You share a house with your siblings and you share your parents with your siblings. Heck, you even have to share your life with your siblings, so me getting my own room is what I consider sacrilegious."
The other kids just simply frowned and said to her, "Grow up, Josie, will ya?"
"Oh, why don't you?" Josie snapped at them. "One day, you may lose your siblings and you'll be regretting the fact that you never got to spend any time with them because you were so busy being with your friends to even give them a second of your time. So I would suggest that you better get off your high horses and play with your brothers and sisters or else they're gonna find someone new to play with and leave you all alone."
With that, Josie walked away from the shocked crowd of uncaring students and headed home; she wasn't about to get into another debate about the whither-tos and whyfors about family life. Not when she had more important things to think about.
Such as her dealing with her cousin, Patricia Leigh Kalbrunner, and Rajasthan, who was Patricia's father.
As far as she knew, Patricia (better known as Trixie) was locked away in a secret room at the top of the Kalbrunner house and no one knew that she existed. Not even Josie's father, Skylar Stebbins, spoke about his niece. Josie had accidentally met Trixie when she and her new friends, Seth Burke and Moira Downing, were hiding in Rajasthan's house when they mistakenly assumed that Sheila Baines, the school bully, had sent the police after them for a crime they didn't commit. The kids later sprung Trixie from her prison cell and brought her to their school, where she had put the rude girl in her place in front of many students and teachers.
Now today was Monday, January 18, 1988, but there was no school on that day. Josie shook her head, wondering why the government decided to spend a day honoring one man who fought for equality for Americans everywhere, but was blind to notice that there would always be people like Sheila Baines, whose main purpose in life was to cause nothing but trouble for the unlucky students at Montagne Beach Middle School. Josie would deal with Sheila later; right now, she had more important things to do.
It was 9:00 A.M. and Josie pounded on the door to the Kalbrunner house with BOTH fists; she didn't have time for propriety. Her cousin needed to be rescued from herself, whether her uncle wanted her to be rescued or not.
"Hello, Josephine," Rajasthan said as soon as he saw his very angry niece standing at his front door, not knowing the true reason for her rare visit. "Would you like to come in?"
"No, we need to talk," Josie snapped as she sized up her uncle. Rajasthan Kalbrunner was 53 years of age. He had a dark tan complexion, curly graying red hair cut short, and hazel eyes. He was of average height, a bit pudgy, and was dressed in a jogging suit that had the words "Jordache" written on it. Rajasthan led her into the dining room, where he said, "So, what do you want to talk about? Sports? Politics? Or even why Americans are taking the day off to honor one man when they have failed the Iranian people and because of that, the people working at the American Embassy were taken hostage and held there for nearly three years and today, the new government is so restrictive that no one living there is able to even so much as breathe without permission?"
"Neither," Josie snapped at him. Rajasthan just stared at her, wondering what she was doing here and what she wanted to talk about. "I want to talk about my cousin."
"Which cousin?" said Rajasthan. "Is it Johnny? Alexander? Zachery? Are they causing you any problems? If they are, then I’ll talk to them."
"No," said Josie. "I want to talk about Trixie."
"Trixie who?" said Rajasthan.
"Patricia, my cousin, your only begotten daughter," Josie snapped at him. "Do you know anything about her? Don’t you dare lie to me!"
"Can't say I have," said Rajasthan with a strange look on his face. Josie glared at him. "All I can tell you about her is that she's crazy. Not quite right in the head. You don't know what it's like to have a kid that just sits there, locked away in their own world, never allowing anyone else to come in. I just can't bear the pain, the shame of having such a kid like that dumped on me, and by her own mother at that! I thought that I had made it clear to Theresa that I wasn't interested in Patricia at all and if she really wanted to get rid of Patricia, she should have thrown her away in a mental hospital and be done with it!"
"You think you have it bad?" Josie cried out in the way of a response. "You think that just because you have a disabled kid that means that your own life is going to be miserable? Try living in her shoes! Try spending the last five years of her entire life locked away in some tiny prison just because of a minor mental problem! Try NEVER having any friends because people see you as some sort of retard and they make fun of you! Try to imagine having to sit in that room all day surrounded by a bunch of stuffed animals because no one wants to take care of you! Heck, you can even try living in a world that doesn't want you to exist because of your disability, and there are scores of people who, if they wanted to, could kill you and get away with it! You are the worst uncle and father who ever walked the face of the planet! No sane person does this to a child! That's child abuse and I won't stand for any wickedness! There is a God out there, and he doesn't approve of the way that you are raising your daughter! Now, if you don't get her out of that filth-ridden excuse of a room and actually take good care of her, I'll reveal her existence to the world; and when I do, your life will be utterly ruined!"
Rajasthan stared at his niece for a very long time, and he realized that she was right. He knew that Josephine Parandis Tremlett-Kahn could betray him at any time, now that she knew his secret. She had the capacity to expose any secrets to the public, and she had done that on a number of occasions. The people whose secrets were exposed were despised by their families and friends, and they were eventually asked to move away from Montagne Beach and never return. He knew that if Josie was to reveal Trixie and everything about her, then his goose was certainly cooked. (Not even his own brother would defend him if that were to happen)
But he wasn't going to give her the satisfaction, not as long as she was under the legal age of 18 years old. He needed to be the adult and lay down the rules regarding Trixie. Hopefully, Josie would understand what he had to say.
"I'm going to tell you this once, Josephine, and please be sure that you hear what I'm going to say," Rajasthan said to her in a very stern voice. Josie continued to glare at him with anger. "I want you to stay away from Patricia. You hear me? Stay away from her. I don't mind you being with your other cousins, and you should be with them instead of being by yourself like you always do, but you are to avoid Patricia. Do you understand?"
Little did he know that Trixie was in the doorway to the room, listening to the conversation. When she heard Rajasthan demanding that Josie stay away from her, her heart slowly turned to stone. She was so angry that she would resort to murder if she didn't notice Josephine in the room with him.
In her mind, it was time for her father to learn a lesson about who and what she really was.
"As God is my witness, I'm going to make you sorry you ever mistreated me," Trixie whispered to herself. "You will not tell anyone that they are to stay away from me. And when it's all over, you will regret the day you took me in."
There was no way that she was going to let this incident go; not when she had just "woken up" from her "sleep" and learned that the world had changed. The world needed people like her living in it, and not in a room filled with stuffed animals. She needed to find her place in the world, and if she had to break a few feet (and noses) to get there, so be it.
Trixie approached the bane of her existence with an ugly snarl on her face. No one was going to tell anyone what they could it could not do regarding her, and she certainly wasn't going back into the room at the top floor, no matter what Rajasthan said.
Something had to give.
"Hello father, hello Josie," Trixie snapped as she walked into the living room, glaring at both of them as she saw them. To Rajasthan, she said, "We need to talk."
"And that's my cue to leave," said Josie as she stood up and walked out the door. "Good luck dealing with her."
Rajasthan was now left alone with Trixie. He knew that this day would come, the day when Trixie "snapped out of" whatever disability that she had and confront him. But nothing in the world had prepared him for this.
"I heard everything that you said to Josie about me," Trixie snapped, not giving him a chance to explain himself. "I cannot believe that you would tell Josie such a lie as this! I expected better of you, and I'm a kid!"
"Patricia, you must understand," said Rajasthan. He refused to go down without a fight. "I did all of this for you! I couldn't bear to see you suffer just because your mother rejected you and you went from foster home to foster home, never obtaining a family that wanted someone like you in it. You shut down completely when you were just 10 years old; you would not speak to anyone, nor would you acknowledge their existence! I had to hide you here so that no one would ever find out about who you were and perhaps your mother."
Bitter did not describe how Patricia Leigh Kalbrunner was feeling right now. She was so angry that Rajasthan knew that there was no way that he was going to win this round. Josie had already seen to that.
But that didn't mean that he wasn't going to give up now.
"I'd like to know where you got the notion that I am a severely disabled freak of nature who can't even go two feet without any problems," said Trixie. "You need to tell me the truth right now or else I'll expose myself to the world and make you sorry for even hiding me!"
"It's your mother," Rajasthan said with a bored tone. He really didn't feel like talking about her. "She did this to us. She played me for a fool and as soon as you were born, she shoved you into a basket and hid you next to a dumpster. Luckily, someone found you and rescued you from certain death."
"And what of my mother?" said Trixie without missing a beat. "What do you know of her?"
"She's a liar and a fool," said Rajasthan. "It's impossible to talk about her "good qualities" when she is full of nothing but wickedness and greed. She cared nothing about who she hurt or deceived, just as long as she got what she wanted. I sincerely hope that she pissed off the wrong person and is lying dead in a ditch somewhere. That's no less than the fate that Theresa Nichols deserved, for me and yourself."
"Well, that's all fine and dandy," said Trixie, "but you do know that people are talking about this. Josie tells me that for the past few years, people have been making cracks about Rajasthan's "crazy kid" and that "the crazy kid needs to be put down", like what people do to their pets when their pets are too sick to keep living. Do you ever stop to think about the consequences of your decision to lock me away, just as people were wont to do during the 1800s, when the rich families had a crazy uncle living upstairs in the attic?"
"I don't know about that part, but I assure you that I have heard the rumors about you," said Rajasthan. "Those rumors are hurtful. They devalue you as a human being and they make me ashamed to be a father. I don't know what else I should do about those people who say these things about us."
"You better tell them the truth," Trixie warned him. "Tell them the truth right now, before I do. And when I do, you will be forever shamed and disgraced."
"We'll be taking that to the next topic," said Rajasthan, "but for now..."
The phone suddenly rang. He picked it up, knowing that it was some charity offering to take Trixie away to some charity-run mental hospital that was located on the edge of Carmel-by-the-Sea. "No thank you!" he yelled. "I'm not selling her to some fancy kennel so that you can keep her locked up in a cage! Now do yourself a favor and quit calling me! You call me again, and I'm going to call the police! No one should be harassing families to make them give up their children! Now then..."
Trixie went to the secret parlor in the house and sat on the couch, trying to figure out her next move. Now that Josie knew the truth about her and revealed it to her, she would have to create an alternative persona so that she could safely go out in public and not have to worry about being known as Patricia Leigh Kalbrunner, who should have been sent to a mental hospital instead of living with her overprotective father. She knew that Seth and Moira had already come up with a nickname for her, June Tempest, but she hated that name. She needed a real name and disguise for herself.
Just then, she pushed a button that was on the side of the couch and gasped as she saw a huge pile of clothes and wigs that were located in a secret compartment under the couch. She had hit the jackpot.
While Rajasthan continued to argue with the people from the charity, Trixie spent the next few hours sorting out clothes and wigs and trying to come up with a new name and persona for herself. So far, she had discarded the names Ruby Burrell, Kayla Petersen, Ginger Bergman, Helga Cudahy, and Phoebe Mendel. Trixie said to herself, "I need a real name, and it's not like I can't create an anagram of my actual name..."
Just then, it hit her. She could make an anagram out of her name. Within a few minutes, she had something written down, something that she would force the world to remember long after her death and beyond.
The name was Alana Chenile Kruger-Pirt.